a “phenomenon” to be interpreted by others

The gold tablet from Pelinna reads:

Now you have died and now you have been born, thrice blessed one, on this very day. Say to Persephone that Bakchios himself freed you. A bull you rushed to milk. Quickly, you rushed to milk. A ram you fell into milk. You have wine as your fortunate honor. And rites await you beneath the earth, just as the other blessed ones.

The gold tablet from Thurii reads:

Rejoice at the experience! This you have never before experienced. You have become divine instead of mortal. You have fallen as a kid into milk. Hail, hail, as you travel on the right, through the Holy Meadow and Groves of Persephone.

Edward Butler offers a brilliant interpretation of this recurring motif:

The Orphic slogan, “A kid, I fell into milk”: I believe this to be equivalent in a certain respect to part of Crowley’s Oath of the Abyss; namely, the part about “interpreting every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my soul.” To say “A kid, I fell into milk” is to say that I was thrown into a world not of my making, but found it was made of meaning. […] It is not just a question, then, of interpreting one’s own life, but that one becomes a “phenomenon” to be interpreted by others. This is what a hero is, I think, a mortal having become such a site of meaning.

Because I’m strange that way, his post reminded me of something Lana Del Rey once said:

I was a singer, not a very popular one, who once had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet- but upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again- sparkling and broken. But I really didn’t mind because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted and then losing it to know what true freedom is. When the people I used to know found out what I had been doing, how I had been living- they asked me why. But there’s no use in talking to people who have a home, they have no idea what its like to seek safety in other people, for home to be wherever you lay your head. I was always an unusual girl, my mother told me that I had a chameleon soul. No moral compass pointing me due north, no fixed personality. Just an inner indecisiveness that was as wide as wavering as the ocean. And if I said that I didn’t plan for it to turn out this way I’d be lying- because I was born to be the other woman. I belonged to no one- who belonged to everyone, who had nothing- who wanted everything with a fire for every experience and an obsession for freedom that terrified me to the point that I couldn’t even talk about- and pushed me to a nomadic point of madness that both dazzled and dizzied me. Every night I used to pray that I’d find my people- and finally I did- on the open road. We have nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore- except to make our lives into a work of art.

4 thoughts on “a “phenomenon” to be interpreted by others

  1. Intriguing as always…

    I’ve been revisiting Lana Del Rey’s “Ride” a bit recently, and can’t help the feeling that (as I said on my old blog at some stage) that it is a modern retelling, or perhaps more accurately “restatement,” of another mythic complex that Edward Butler has written about: the “Wandering Goddess/Distant Goddess” of Egyptian myth…which, in its own way, has crossovers with various Greek things, including perhaps the Eleusinian Mysteries and even the wanderings of Dionysos…but all of that is a tale for another time, eh? ;)


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